Bulls Have To Grind With/Without Deng

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few teams in the league have shown a better understanding of how to survive without a key player than the league-leading Chicago Bulls.

They lose reigning MVP Derrick Rose for a few games with that bad toe and don’t miss a beat.

So while it’s obvious that the Bulls know exactly what to do when one of their big dogs is out of the lineup, it will be interesting to see what they do with Luol Deng on the shelf with that “Kobe Bryant” (torn ligament) in his left wrist.

It’s strange how Deng and Bryant’s names have criss-crossed over the course of Deng’s career. Don’t forget, it was reportedly Deng that the Bulls tried to send to the Lakers in a deal that would have brought Kobe to Chicago years ago. Reports that Bryant was objecting to any deal that included Deng (he wanted to make sure the Bulls had enough talent to compete for a title) is a testament to the value Deng’s peers place on his game.

That’s impressive for a player with no All-Star appearances on his resume yet and is one who is often overlooked when the conversation of the best small forwards in the game comes up.

Even more impressive will be the Bulls’ continued ability to grind through the avalanche of nicks, bumps and bruises that they’ve been able to brush aside so far (16-3 and atop the Eastern Conference and the league). They host the Pacers tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBA TV.

“I know it’s a bad injury and it sounds terrible, but really, I think it will fine,” Deng, who is trying to avoid surgery, told reporters yesterday. “We’ve got a good team, and I think I’m going to be fine.”

In addition to Rose, and now Deng, the Bulls haven’t exactly played at full strength this season. Both Rip Hamilton and Joakim Noah have dealt with their own injury issues this season. We’re only a quarter of the way through the regular season and the Bulls have half of their regular rotation guys dealing with nagging injuries.

If they thought it was a rugged road to the Eastern Conference finals last season, with all the pressure Rose had to deal with in what turned out to be his first MVP season and (a Coach of the Year season) in Tom Thibodeau‘s first run through the league in the first chair, this season could prove to be even more challenging.

Sam Smith of Bulls.com raised some interesting points in his assessment of how the Bulls could, and perhaps should, handle things going forward:

Although coach Tom Thibodeau hasn’t said, it’s possible Deng might get rested between games as teams around the league are doing with growing frequency with some of their main players. There have been a large number of injuries around the NBA this season and players sitting out games, and it looks to me, though I have no actual proof, that to counter the increased schedule some players are choosing to sit out an extra game or two before returning.

In some places with veteran players, it’s obvious and admitted, like with Tim Duncan with the Spurs.

Actually, I think that’s reasonable as there’s nothing wrong with usual reserves getting some playing time, and it should help the quality of play later in the season and into the playoffs as players pace themselves somewhat.

And it’s really not like there’s all that much complaining from the teams, and certainly not the Bulls.

I liked what Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters this week: “All this [complaining] about the compressed schedule is coming from you [media] guys, it’s not coming from me. I haven’t [complained] about it once. It’s a reality that we have to do our best with. The attitude you take towards it goes a long ways towards how you’re going to deal with it.”

Even in shortened marathon, the wear and tear of the season makes it tough on any team with championship aspirations. The Bulls will have to dig deep to make it through and continue to get the extra effort they’ve gotten from the likes of Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Taj Gibson, Omer Asik, Kyle Korver, C.J. Watson and John Lucas III, to get them through.

They have continue to step up because the injuries both Rose and Deng are dealing with won’t go away over the course of the season. How much pain the Bulls’ top two players can deal with throughout the course of the season will require our scrutiny from now until their last game of this season, whenever that day comes.


  1. Knicks fan says:

    No either those teams will going to finals it’s my New York Knicks is the one deserve that position..Heat and Bulls fans keep dreaming…

  2. King James says:

    Let’s decide after sunday’s game.. Heat vs Bulls rematch.. Stop the non sense prediction because the heat will beat the bulls again.. hahaha

  3. Bulls rock says:

    The bulls team are having some problems with these injuries.
    But face it bulls last year already one of the best teams and this year they have derrick rose as a better player and they have RIP and deng’s defense also Carlos Boozer is playing way better than last year so for me
    2012-2013 finals Oklahoma City VS Chicago Bulls

  4. Deng says:

    I’m going for bulls for now and not here to predicts anything,

  5. jesse says:

    bulls are by far!!! the deepest of any team and have the best player in the league in rose, last year was really to me their rookie year but they would dominate the heat this season and anyone in the west. ok city may give them some game but bulls way to deep. pay for your kids college education by betting 10g’s on the bulls to win it all!!

  6. HEAT-THUNDER 2012 says:

    Folks, Lets all face the reality that BULLS is a premature team and I predict that the HEAT-THUNDER in the 2012 finals. Even if the Bulls will always be complete, they still cant make it to the finals, MARK my WORD.. The Only way that can make the Bulls past Heat is if the Heat TRIO will be injured during the Eastern Conference finals. Think of the Bench Players of the Miami folks.

  7. littleteapot says:

    Keep in mind the bulls have had one of the toughest schedules so far, playing more games than any other team, and against some of the better teams in the league mostly on the road. These injuries were almost inevitable, and its to their credit that they are playing hard every game in spite of the circumstances. They will get rewarded for their work late when they get to take more rest at the end of the year while other teams have to make it up.

  8. NBA says:

    MIAMI HEAT IS GONNA WIN THE FINALS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Heat vs Thunder)

  9. mike says:

    Man yall all are crazy the bulls team right now will be able to get past Miami to go on to the NBA finals..i have to predict..Bulls VS Mavericks in the 2012-2013 NBA finals

  10. big j says:

    the bulls is the best so just go bulls……………………

  11. ro says:

    umm…why are some comments talking about deng for kobe…that was a couple years back! how could u all not remember that! im a die hard, but i still think this seasons teams need to play a higher caliber team…most of our games are played against weak teams….we had no business winnnig against la and atlanta, lets just be honest. tonights game will be a good test at how the bulls really are doing.

    • .... says:

      really?!? All that matters is that the Bulls won, it doesn’t matter what could or should of happened. They won, so atlanta and LA and you cant say s***

  12. Lol@nbaBLOGcomments says:

    What you gonna do when Lebrons guarding d-rose and Battier is guarding Deng? Lol Miami is still and always will be the team to beat in the east they’re the eastern conference champions give them respect. And Miami and Lebron has something to prove you know hes gonna be on top of his game in the playoffs. Heat Vs Thunder Finals Miami 4-2.

    • Got Me Laughin.. says:

      dude what are you smokin???

    • Law064 says:

      What happened when Lebron was guarding Rose last year? They had to double him smh the same when Wade was on Rose they had to double him. The bulls couldn’t finish the Pacers off yesterday but all in all they played good and should’ve won. The Bulls will be ok and Sunday we’ll get a chance to see a rematch of the ECF. Go Bulls Go Celtic’s.

  13. NBEATZ says:

    The bulls are the most complete team in this leaque…………………….WITHOUT DENG THEY WILL GO DOWN. Rose is the MVP, but deng is thier “GLUE GUY” and he keeps this team rolling, Boozer is playing better because Rose was not playing ans SOMEONE had to score more…….Right?

    • jrj says:

      haha nooo. if anything booz would score less with rose out cause now everyone is paying attention to booz and not rose. when rose is out there is makes it easier for everyone on the bulls team. booz is just playn better. it was fun to see lebron play three quarters against the bucks the other night and not show up in the forth again!!! when it matters hah. best most athletic none closer in the history on the NBA. only reason he joined wade, cant do it on his own 🙂

  14. Joemar23 says:

    Yes the bulls had to deal with a lot of injuries this time of the year but since they have the deepest bench right now it also benifits these guys to build up some of their confidence and to be able to contribute consistently towards the main goal “TO WIN THE CHAMAPIONSHIP”…Its true that theres no way you can complain about the schedules since every one has and will experience all these hardships…

  15. 2012Champs says:

    The Bulls can beat Miami with this new Bulls Team. Every single player on the Bulls roaster are great. They are not lacking anything this year trust me. Boozer is playing so much better. Don’t be surprise if you see this team in the NBA finals this year. I predict it will be Thunders VS Bulls – 2012.

  16. Luis says:

    Deng is at top of his game, kobe’s is just declining his plus the divorce he is going through. Deng is a ALL-STAR!!!!And to top it off he is one of the best defenders.

  17. TiM says:

    Deng is on of the few complete basketball players and without him is diffucult to stay on the top,he puts his soul when he’s out there

  18. basketball 101 says:

    injuries are apart of the game & every team including the top teams & including the best players ( Rose Wade CP3 Pierce) have had to miss games due to injury.(some teams are still rolling by the way) Of the 2 teams that made it to the finals… Miami got there with Mike Miller missing half the season & Haslem missing half the season & playoffs! You can say Caron Butler was 2nd best player on his team, He missed the whole finals and they won. So I agree with Carlisle – Whoever deals with the bumbs in the road the best can still be successful.

  19. prix is back says:

    Bulls right now have the complete line-up that could probably match the Miami for the rematch of last years East finals…they have Rip and there defense shows more solid than last year..if you ask me to change it…I wont agree even if you trade Kobe for Deng… Kobe and the Lakers are dying…Deng plays more efficient and smart than kobe right now…Kobe will just make mess in Chicago…

    • kobe says:

      the only thing that will hurt C

      • kobe says:

        my computer frooze..i was saying the only thing will hurt Chicago come playoff time will b the offense..just like last year they were unable to score ..Boozer will be nowhere to b found and rose will see double teams..Hamilton is a good scorer ..if u can get Kobe for Deng the Bulls will will the nba championship..They will not get past Miami with this teAM..

      • turk says:

        …and you are stupid.